What is considered an emergency roof repair?

two men holding buckets under a leaking roof

What’s classed as an emergency repair?

Chattanooga, Tennessee has the most beautiful summer landscape and weather. Those are probably just a few reasons why the area has become a vacation destination. But all that beautiful weather can also be treacherous on rooftops, unknowingly leaving behind damaged roofs. Then when the winter comes along, homeowners in this area are scrambling for emergency roof repair help. 

Is a roof leak an emergency?

An emergency roof repair is when the elements and the leak can cause further damage the home, making it inhabitable or safe. An emergency roof repair provides protection for the interior of the home until a permanent solution can be completed.

An example of an emergency roof leak would be a roof profusely leaking in one or more areas, or part of the caves in or collapses entirely. Another example is when there is roof damage caused by a storm damages the roof, leaving the interior exposed and the structure weakened. Other reasons that a roof leak is considered an emergency may be any of the following: 

  • Missing Shingles: If there is a large area or several missing shingles, it may be considered needing emergency roof repair. When there are several shingles damaged or missing, it leaves the roof and the home vulnerable to more damage, including the personal belongings inside the home.  
  • Rotted Roof Deck: A rotted roof deck can be considered in need of emergency roof repair. A rotted roof deck will allow moisture to build up in the attic, creating a structural hazard to the home.
  • Exposed Interior: It can be a few missing shingles, or the total roof has collapsed inside the house, the answer to the question is if the roof repair can wait or is there danger of the home suffering more damage immediately? 

Can you repair a roof from the inside, and what materials are needed to repair a roof?

A temporary emergency roof repair can be done from the inside, saving the interior from more damage or harm until the actual roof itself can be addressed. You’ll need two buckets, two plastic tarps, a sheet of plywood, waterproof caulk, and roofing tar. The following steps will guide you through creating a temporary inside emergency roof repair: 


  • Step One:  Find the leak, which requires getting into the attic. Roof leaks are rarely coming straight down from where the leak originates. You’ll need to follow the water dripping/running to where it is coming from. Using a flashlight will help because it will reflect on the water. If the rain has stopped, look for wet insulation and under decking, then look up above those wet areas. Once you have located the actual leaking area, circle it with chalk so you can find easier later.

If it is still raining, you’ll need to lay a tarp on the leak, and place a bucket on the tarp to catch the rain. Remove any wet insulation, this will need to be replaced now that it is compromised. 

In the living quarters of your home, where the leak is coming through, place a tarp on the floor and another bucket on the tarp. Using a nail or screwdriver, poke a hole in the bulging area of the ceiling. This will allow any built up water to drain and relieve the pressure off the ceiling. 

Now, you’ll need to wait for the rain to stop and the area to dry out before you go to the next step. This will be the time to call a roofing contractor. 

  • Step Two: With the leaking area identified, take a sheet of plywood, and cut it down so that it is just a little bigger than the leaking area and waterproof caulk. Go back to the attic and spread the caulk along the edges of the plywood then press it against the roof decking over the leak. Insert nails or screws along the outer edges of the plywood to hold it in place. The spread roofing tar along the outer edges for extra sealant. 

Can you repair part of a roof?

It will depend on how much damage there is and what part of the roof is damaged. A professional roofing contractor will inspect the entire roof, including inside your home and the attic, then advise possible solutions. If they feel the entire roof is compromised, they will recommend a complete roof replacement. Then the insurance adjuster will inspect the roof in the same or similar manner the roofing contractor and advise their findings and decision. 

How much does a roof leak repair cost?

A single story home with a small roof leak can usually be repaired for $200 or less. The bigger and more severe the damage, the more the repair will cost. Typically the cost can range from $500 and $1,500, with the average around $800 for and asphalt shingle roof with minor to moderate leaking. This would include patching the roof and replacing the damaged or missing shingles.  

Can I repair my roof myself?

If you don’t have any fear of heights and have the ladder, yes, a DIY homeowner could do their own emergency roof repair or permanent roof repair on an asphalt shingled roof. There are multitudes of videos online to walk you through the process. It is recommended to have another person helping you and always wear a safety belt when up on the roof. 

Is it better to repair or replace a roof?

There are several factors to be considered when determining if an emergency roof repair, a permanent roof repair, or if a complete new roof is needed:  

1. Age

Depending on the existing roofing material and how old the roof is a factor to consider. An asphalt shingled roof 10 years old or older that has suffered storm damage should be replaced.  

2. Leaks

A leaking roof is often an indication that a new roof is needed. If there are any of the following, this is just the start of what will become a bigger issue sooner than later: 

  • Mildew and mold
  • Rotting framing, joists, and roof sheathing
  • Damaged ceilings and walls
  • Wet or destroyed attic insulation

3. Damage 

Hiring a local roofing contractor that has a reputation of reliable, they will inspect the extent of the roof damage and help you decide the best route to take. They will consider the aesthetic damage and structural damage in this decision process:

  • Aesthetic damage shown by old and worn roofing material, algae, moss, and dark streaks on the roof. 
  • Structural damage shown by shingles that are cupped or curled, missing granules or bald shingles, shingles that are bent, broken, cracked, or dented. Rusted metal roofing materials.  

4. Geographical 

If your home is located in region that is susceptible to strong weather elements like hailstorms, high winds, hurricanes, or tornadoes, replacing the missing shingles may not be enough. Any existing hail damage will typically require completely new roof because it is now compromised. 

5. Cost

A big concern for any homeowner is the cost of a new roof, so if an emergency roof repair can be a permanent fix for cheaper, that is the usual preference. A roofing contractor will give you the options they see along with the cost of each. Another factor that is considered is your homeowner’s insurance. What will they pay, your deductible, and if there is a mortgage holder on the property. 

young couple calling a roofer to deal with a leak

Final Thoughts 

So, you’re probably wondering just who do I call if my roof collapses? The first thing you need to do is get everyone out and to a safe place, including yourself. Then call 9-1-1 because there is danger amid a structure where the roof has collapsed. 

A collapsed roof will affect the entire structure, starting with the roof frame connected to the walls. With this under stress, everything else within the structure is compromised and under stress. Until it has been examined and inspected by law enforcement and/or an engineer, and your homeowner’s insurance adjuster, the house should remain vacant.  At this point, any emergency roof repair isn’t going to be sufficient.